April–what some farmers call “mud season” in the North Country. During the 15 years I worked for Cornell Cooperative Extension I spent most of my time “out and around” making farm visits. This meant finding the farmer wherever he was at the time, often out in the field. Early on I decided that getting stuck in the mud would be a waste of time so I was very cautious as to where I drive the company car. The head of Cornell University’s fleet garage was a piece of work, and I sure didn’t want to bring a car back to the university with the undercarriage coated with mud. So I often would walk back to a field instead of driving down a muddy farm road.
I got stuck exactly twice in those 15 years, and in both cases with the farmer in the passenger seat telling me “Oh, you can drive down here, it’s OK.” Obviously, it was not. In one case the farmer told me to drive down what appeared to be a slightly muddy slope. I said “Are your sure?” He said “No problem.”. I started down the slope, and about halfway down he said “Maybe that’s far enough.” “I stopped back up there a ways–we’re sliding.” And we did, all the way to the bottom of the slope. He wasn’t upset, obviously had been stuck many times before, and hiked back to the farm, returning with a big John Deere tractor to haul me back up the hill.
I also got stuck twice in the 30 years I worked at Miner Institute, in both cases nobody’s fault but my own. The ribbing I took from the “Crops Crew” in hauling my car out of the mud was enough punishment that both times were early on in my career there.
One warm, sunny spring day a farmer on his way to town drove past a field and saw a tractor in a field near the road with a man lying under the tractor. He wasn’t moving, and the farmer feared the worst. He got out of his pickup and ran into the partly plowed field, yelling “Are you OK?” The man quickly sat up, forgetting that he was lying under the tractor, whacked his head on the undercarriage, flattening him again. He rolled out from under the tractor, rubbing his head with a sheepish smile. “Got sleepy and thought I’d take a nap in the shade.” You’d have to know the sleepy fellow to truly appreciate this story…